Achintya Bheda Abheda
Achintya Bheda Abheda
Shastras and Sutras
Other Indian philosophies
Dvaitadvaita was proposed by Nimbarka, a Vaishnava Philosopher who
hailed from Andhra Region. Nimbarka’s philosophical position is
Bhedabheda vada). The categories of existence,
according to him, are three, i.e., cit, acit, and Isvara. Cit and acit
are different from Isvara, in the sense that they have attributes
(Guna) and capacities (Swabhaava), which are different from those of
Isvara is independent and exists by Himself, while 'cit' and
'acit' have existence dependent upon Him. So, at the same time 'cit'
and 'acit' are not different from Isvara, because they cannot exist
independently of Him. Here, difference means a kind of existence which
is separate but dependent, (para-tantra-satta-bhava) while
non-difference means impossibility of separate existence
1 Philosophical View
1.2 Jiva (cit)
1.3 Acit (the jagat)
2 Four Sadhanas
2.3 Upasana or dhyana
Part of a series on
Brahma (Dvaita, Acintyabhedabheda)
According to Nimbarka's
Dvaitadvaita philosophy of differential
monism, various philosophical terms are understood as follows.
The Highest Reality, according to Nimbarka, is Brahman,
Hari, a personal God. There is nothing that is equal to Him, nothing
that is superior. He is the Lord of all, and Controller of all. He is
Brahman because of the unsurpassed greatness of His nature and
qualities, because He is beyond any limit of any kind of space, time
Brahman is the sole cause of creation, maintenance and destruction of
the Universe. All beings arise from Him, nothing is superior to Him.
The Lord alone is the first cause, the manifestor of all names and
forms, and none else.
Brahman is both the upadana (material cause) and the Nimitta
(efficient cause). It is the material cause in the sense that it
enables its natural saktis, viz. the cit and the acit in their subtle
forms, to be manifested in gross forms; and it is the efficient cause
in the sense that it unites the individual souls with their respective
fruits of actions and means of enjoyments.
Nimbarka discusses two aspects of Brahman. On one hand,
eternal and great, the greatest of the great, the highest of the high,
the creator, etc. of the Universe, high above the individual soul, of
which He is the Lord and the ruler. But, on the other aspect He is the
abode of infinite beauty, bliss and tenderness, and in intimate
connection with the soul. He is the abode of supreme peace, supreme
grace, and the ocean of all sweetness and charms.
Brahman possessed of attributes and adorable by all, has four
forms or vyuhas (i.e., Vasudeva, Sankarsana, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha)
and appears under various incarnation as Matsya,
The cit or individual soul is of the nature of knowledge
(jnana-svarupa); it is able to know without the help of the
sense-organs and it is in this sense that words like prajnana-ghanah
svayamjyotih jnanamayah etc. as applied to jiva are to be understood.
The jiva is the knower also; and he can be both knowledge and the
possessor of knowledge at the same time, just as the sun is both light
and the source of light. Thus the soul, who is knowledge, and his
attribute, knowledge, though they are both identical as knowledge, can
be at the same time different and related as the qualified (dharmin)
and the quality (dharma), just as the sun and his light, though
identical as light (taijasa), are still different from each other.
Thus there is both a difference and a non-difference between the
dharmin and dharma; and the extreme similarity between them implies,
not necessarily their absolute identity, but only a non-perception of
The jiva is also ego (ahamarthah). This ego continues to persist not
only in the state of deep sleep, (because our consciousness
immediately after getting up from sleep has the form slept happily or
knew nothing) but also in the state of liberation. It even belongs to
the Parabrahman. Hence it is that
Krishna refers to Himself so
frequently in the first person in the Gita, of which the chief object
is thus Purusottama, who is omniscient and at the same time
non-different from the ego or asmadartha.
The jiva is also essentially active (kartr). This quality belongs to
it in all its conditions, even after release. But the kartrtva is not
independent. The jiva is also enjoyer (bhoktr) essentially in all its
For his knowledge and activity, however, the jiva depends on Hari;
thus, though resembling Him in being intelligent and knower, he is at
the same time distinguished from him by his dependence. This quality
of dependence or of being controlled (niyamyatva) is the very nature
of jiva even in the state of release, just as niyamyatva or the
quality of being the controller, forms the eternal nature of Isvara.
The jiva is atomic in size; at the same time his attribute, knowledge,
is omnipresent, which makes it possible that he can experience
pleasure and pain in any part of the body, just as, for instance, the
light of a lamp can spread far and wide and illumine objects away from
the lamp. The Jivas are different and in different bodies, and so are
infinite in number.
Acit (the jagat)
The acit is of three different kinds: viz. prakrta, aprakrta, and
kala. Prakrta, or what is derived from Prakrti, the primal matter,
aprakrta is defined negatively as that which is not the product of
prakrti, but its real nature is not clearly brought out. These three
categories in their subtle forms are as eternal as the cit or the
Nimbarka does not explain what exactly the aprakrta is, nor does he
define kala more precisely, beyond noticing, as pointed out above,that
the aprakrta and the kala are species of the acit. But,
Purusottamacarya of the
Nimbarka school has, in his
Vedantaratna-manjusa, described acit aprakrta as the material cause of
the dhama(celestial abode) of
Brahman and the bodies and ornaments
Brahman and his associates.]
Prakrti, or the primal matter-the stuff of the entire universe is real
and eternal like the individual souls, and like them, though eternal
and unborn, has yet
Brahman for its cause. It consists of the three
qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas, such as prakrit, mahat, ahankara
etc. (just similar to 24 principles of the Sankhyas).
The jiva has his true form distorted and obscured owing to his contact
with karma resulting from ignorance, which is beginningless, but which
can come to an end, by the grace of God, when its true nature is fully
manifested. Ignorance is a part of God and is the basis of cosmic
manifestation i.e. the arising of God with attributes.
To attain deliverance, the jiva has to commence with a complete
submission to the Paramatman, or prapatti, whose six constituents
1) a resolution to yield (anukulasya samkalpah) 2) the avoidance of
opposition (pratikulasya varjanam) 3) faith that God will protect
(raksisyati ity visvasah) 4) acceptance of him as saviour
(goptrtva-varanam) 5) throwing one’s whole soul upon him
(atmaniksepah), and 6) a sense of helplessness (karpanya).
God’s grace extends itself to those who are possessed of these 6
constituents of prapatti, i.e., who are prapanna; and by that grace is
generated bhakti consisting of special love for him, which ultimately
ends in the realisation (saksatkara) of the Paramatman. For a devotee
knowledge of the following 5 things is quite necessary:
1) the nature of the supreme soul, 2) the nature of the individual
soul, 3) the fruit of God's grace or moksa, (which is an uninterrupted
realisation of the nature and attributes of Brahman, following from
the absolute destruction of all action and the consequent extinction
of all sentience), 4) the feeling of enjoyment consequent on bhakti,
and 5) the nature of the obstacles in the way of the attainment of
God, such as regarding the body and the mind as the soul, depending on
someone who is neither God nor the preceptor, neglecting their
commands, and considering God as nothing more than an ordinary being.
Nimbarka refers to 4 methods of sadhanas:
Performed conscientiously in a proper spirit, with one’s varna and
asrama thereby giving rise to knowledge which is a means to
Not as a subordinate factor of karma but as an independent means.
Upasana or dhyana
It is of three types. First is meditation on the Lord as one's self,
i.e. meditation on the Lord as the Inner Controller of the sentient.
Second is meditation on the Lord as the Inner Controller of the
non-sentient. Final one is meditation on Lord Himself, as different
from the sentient and non-sentient.
Devotion and self-surrender to guru.
Sri Nimbarkacharya made the "Bhasya" of the Bramhasutra on His
Vedanta (Principle of Dualism-Nondualism) in his famous
Vedanta Parijata Sourabha".
Sampradayas of Vaishnavism
Kumara-sampradaya of Nimbarka
Brahma Sampradaya of Madhvacharya
Sri Sampradaya of Ramanuja
Rudra sampradaya of Vishnuswami